Kumasi and Lake Bosomtwe

Week Fourteen

Since the semester is coming to an end, I have been trying to catch up in reading and revision for my exams, and also running errands on campus to tie up loose ends before returning to the states. Sometimes this can be frustrating because Ghana runs on a much slower pace and it is not uncommon to wait for people for hours to accomplish a task on campus. One day was even more of an adventure when I got caught in a heavy rain storm on the way through the large Legon campus. I was soaking, ring-you-out wet when I reached the Academic Affairs office! It was quite a funny sight. I did quite enjoy that rainy day, though, because it was the first time it has been cool enough to wear my sweatshirt!

Once I got through classes and my internship during the week, including my last lecture of college, I set off with my friend Hannah for Kumasi, the second biggest city in Ghana. We walked through the middle of the largest open market in West Africa, Kejetia market! We bought some amazing print fabric and walked down the railroad tracks through the heart of this intricate maze of foods, spices, and all sorts of crazy things (including dried chameleons for traditional medicine). The next day we headed 35km outside of Kumasi to spend the night at Lake Bosomtwe! This lake was made from a meteor that hit Earth over one million years ago and formed a creator surrounded by mountains that was then fed through a natural underground spring to form the lake. It was so beautiful and peaceful there. We stayed at a gorgeous guesthouse, got to hold a piece of the meteor, and swam in the water, so fresh and clear. We enjoyed watching the flying birds and the traditional-style fishermen. We also got to take a one-hour canoe trip across the lake the next morning! The panoramic view of layered mountains was incredible.

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Lately my emotions have been somewhat of a roller coaster. I am so happy to be in Ghana, but yet so sad to leave. I am also very excited to go home to Ohio, especially to be with my friends and family, but I am very nervous about graduating and the reverse culture shock of returning to the States. It is incredible how quickly time is flying by!

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Support an anti-violence, women’s advocacy organization in Ghana!

The organization that I am an intern for in Ghana is called the Ark foundation.

It is truly amazing, and provides support, resources and advocacy for women in Ghana, especially victims of violence.

Please go to their website at www.arkfoundationghana.org to find out more information.

 

Please see this link to donate:

http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/anti-violence-shelter-in-ghana-needs-support/

Right now is a great time to donate because the Ark is participating in a Mother’s Day Tribute Card Campaign to possibly win an extra $500 for the organization! Donate as “A Gift or In Honor Of” and you will help the Ark to raise more funds!

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Funding your Study Abroad Trip

Studying abroad can be very expensive, and there are many students who never take the opportunity to study abroad because of lack of funding. This is so unfortunate, and students should really take the time to research scholarships and financial aid, especially with so many resources available.

Here are some tips that I found helpful when funding my experience to Ghana….

  • Firstly, contact your study abroad office to see if there are scholarships or grants funded though your university. If you are an Otterbein student, talk to the Center for International Education and Global Engagement for information on the Cultural Envoy scholarship and several more.

 

  • Definitely make an appointment with your Financial Aid office. Some universities allow you to use a portion of your financial aid, and your student loans and grants may also carry over to your overseas institution.

 

  • Research for local, regional and national scholarships in your area. One challenging but amazing scholarship opportunity is the Benjamin Gilman International Scholarship, through the Federal government. Check out the application at https://gilmanapplication.iie.org/. I was lucky enough to receive this scholarship and I am so glad that I took the time to apply.

 

  • Ask family and friends for help! A year before my trip, I send homemade Christmas cards to family asking for help to fund my experience in Ghana. You will be surprised to see how supportive your loved ones can be!

 

  • Budgeting and saving money is of course an important method. It is worth it to see the world!
     
  • There are several opportunities for student discounts on flights and other travel needs. Try http://www.studentuniverse.com for discounted plane tickets. 

 

  • Lastly, be sure to consider the different ways of studying abroad and their costs. You can sign up for a student exchange through your university, use an outside state or national study abroad program, or you may directly enroll at a university abroad (which is the option I chose). The financial obligations differ greatly between these options.
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Birthday Beach-Hopping

Week Thirteen

This week was my 22nd birthday! On my actual birthday during the week I unfortunately felt a little down. It was very strange to not be home for this day, and I felt quite homesick. My friends here were very kind though, and I enjoyed a “Mexican night” burrito dinner and went to reggae night at Labadi beach. One of the best parts of my first day of being 22 was riding a horse down the beach! I had never ridden a horse before, so my birthday in Ghana alongside the ocean seemed to be a great place for my first time.

During the weekend was when I really celebrated my birthday through traveling with my friends and beach hopping. On Friday I went to Ada Foah, the most beautiful beach that I have ever seen with one side of fresh, river water and one side of the salty ocean. We relaxed and swam under the sun all day and had a great time. At night the moonless and cloudless sky brought hundreds of bright, white stars sprinkled across the blackness. I woke up at 2:30am to take a boat across the river to Ada, and a series of tro-tros back to Legon! After only a few hours of sleep and re-packing, I set off on an STC bus to Cape Coast with a bunch of my girl friends! Since this is one of my favorite places in Ghana, it was perfect for celebrating. We stayed at Oasis Beach Resort again, sleeping in beach bungalows and relaxing on the coast all weekend. It was a perfect stress-reliever and helped me to get over my birthday blues. I decided that I would try really hard to not be homesick during my last few weeks in Ghana because it won’t be long before Ghana is the home that I miss!

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Back to Kokrobite!

Week Twelve

During my twelfth week in Ghana the most exciting part was going back to Kokrobite for the weekend and spending time with my friends. We enjoyed relaxing on the beach, checking out the craft shops and listening to a great reggae band at night. I have really met some amazing people here in Ghana, from all over the world. It has been so nice to meet people who have the common interest of traveling and having new experiences. Making these connections is certainly one of the best parts of studying abroad.

 

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A Day in the Life: Legon International Student

When I am not traveling around the country, I am experiencing student life at Legon. Here is a description of my typical week day…

 

I wake up and jump into the cold shower generally with some bugs and/or gecko friends. I normally have a relaxing oatmeal and coffee breakfast at Tasty Treats, the small and very, very slow restaurant in our dorm. I then head to campus for lectures, which is generally a 30 minute walk through the red dirt paths and roads of Legon campus. After class I may go to the International Programmes Office or run errands on campus, and if I am in a good mood I might grab an iced Nescafe at Aquafo hall. This entire time I am sweating because it is very, very hot here, although my body has accustomed quite well. I then head back to “ISH II”, my hostel, wash the red dirt off my feet and spend time in my room. I get online, message friends, read, journal and sketch, and work on homework. I normally go to the “Night Market”, the small market right behind my hostel, for dinner. In the evenings I normally spend time with friends in the dorm watching movies or out somewhere. I interact with people all over the world each day! Sometimes we even catch a pick-up game of football in the parking lot. Every night have several bizarre dreams because of my anti-Malarial medication, and do my best to keep cool.

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Easter in Accra

Week Eleven

I was quite excited this week to have a short break for Easter! Most Ghanaians are very religious and very Christian, so there was much celebration all around. I decided to stick around Accra for the weekend and sightsee in the capital city. On Thursday I went to the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, celebrating this Pan-Africanist leader and his efforts in making Ghana the first African country to gain independence from colonialism. Afterwards we went to a vegetarian restaurant called Rising Phoenix, which was positioned on a cliff overlooking the ocean. This weekend I also went to Jamestown, which is a low-income ex-colonial area of Accra. We visited an NGO called JayNii foundation that took care of street children and orphans in Jamestown. We talked to this couple that had began the organization, and the two of them take care of fifty children! To find out about their funding troubles was sad, but their story nonetheless inspiring.

On Easter I enjoyed coloring egg shells with some American friends and celebrating on the Coco beach in Accra. One crazy moment at the beach was when a man set his baby girl down next to us and went for a swim! He did not even ask us to watch over her; he just assumed that we would take care of her while he was enjoying himself! This moment is definitely an illustration of the culture of social parenting and trust in Ghana. I definitely missed my own family and friends a lot over Easter, but still enjoyed the holiday.

***
During the week I was very excited to start my internship in Ghana! I am working for the Ark Foundation, which is a Ghanaian women’s advocacy organization. They do social and political advocacy for gender equality, governmental accountability, education and leadership seminars for women and a crisis response center for victims of violence. They are an incredible organization and I am really looking forward to the experience. Plus I am very passionate about women’s issues and gender equality. I am very proud of myself for taking this opportunity!

You can check out the foundation at arkfoundationghana.org

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Ada Foah Beach: Paradise in Ghana

Week Ten

During my tenth week in Ghana, I finished a three-week traveling spree with a trip to Ada Foah, where the Volta River meets the ocean in the Gulf of Guinea. We took a “Bob Marley” boat across the river to Maranatha beach resort along the peninsula that separates the salt water from the fresh water. I have never seen somewhere so beautiful; with its palm trees, surrounding waters and white sand this beach looked like paradise. There was quite a big group from the university that went, and it was a fun mix of international and Ghanaian students. We had an all night beach party with a bonfire, and slept in little beach huts that had nothing but bug nets and mattresses directly on the sand. I slept with quite a few crabs that night! The absolute best part of the evening was the clear night sky with such little light pollution–creating a stunning, twinkling starry sky.

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Motorbikes, Monkeys and Mountains; Returning to the Volta!

Week Nine

The following weekend I got an opportunity to go back to the Volta region! My close friend Hannah had her parents visiting from the UK and I tagged along with them for another adventure in the green, lush mountains of Ghana. Our bus from Accra was delayed several hours, which is typical Ghana-time. We set off for the town Ho and stayed in a fancy little hotel, with precious, sweet air conditioning. It is so hot in Ghana that we are all constantly sweating, so having a/c is quite the treat, and this was only the second time I have slept in it since I have been in Ghana. Anyways, our adventures for the weekend included going to Tafi Abuipe, a kente cloth weaving village. Ghana is famous for its vibrant and intricate kente weaving, which traditionally originated in this village. We also went to neighboring Tafi Atome, the monkey sanctuary that I had visited the week before! The best part about the day was getting to these villages because we took motorcycle taxis through the winding roads of the Volta.

The last day of our trip we decided to go to Logba Tota, a village way up in the mountain tops of the Avatime Hills . The steep taxi drive up the mountain was quite scary! The village was so beautiful, with amazing views, and the people were so genuinely friendly and welcoming. We took a 3 km hike through the mountains and found this hideaway waterfall called Akpom Waterfall, which was surrounded by cliffs, rock faces and a cave. It had a beautiful lagoon underneath and was tucked away in the forest. It looked like heaven with its vines and overhanging rocks. We climbed up into the cave and even saw a large stalagmite! After our hike we were cooked a delicious home cooked dinner in the village and watched the stars take over the sky.

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Being a Vegetarian in Ghana

 

I’ve been a vegetarian for almost seven years now, and this diet choice is something that is very important to me. I do not eat meat or fish for animal rights, environmental reasons, health reasons and in general because I do not believe in killing living beings. Before I came to Ghana I was very apprehensive about this lifestyle and was nervous about being healthy as a vegetarian here. But now that I have established life in Accra, I have found that being a vegetarian is actually quite easy here! Between my options in the markets, restaurants, and what I can make with a hot plate in my dorm, I have a good assortment of options. There have certainly been situations (mainly while traveling) where my choices have been limited, but all in all I am impressed with the ability to be vegetarian in Ghana.

Although I have maintained my lack of eating meat or fish, my diet has still very much changed to adapt to Ghanaian lifestyle. In Ghana there is very little dairy, which is something that I ate a lot of in the States, so this has been quite an adjustment. But this lack in dairy has been replaced by an abundance of fresh, deliciously flavorful, and cheap fruits and vegetables. I seriously eat at least one avocado a day! I also eat a lot more starches such as bread, rice and beans because many Ghanaian dishes include these as a main component. Although my diet has changed, I feel that I am getting the proper amount of nutrients and have really been enjoying Ghanaian food.

 

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What do I eat?

  • Fruits: avocados, mangos, bananas, watermelon, pineapple, plantains, African blackberries, coconuts 
  • Vegetables: tomatoes, carrots, peppers, onion, cucumbers
  • Snacks: “cake” (like muffins), plantain chips, yam chips, “biscuits” (cookies and crackers), popcorn
  • Ghanaian local dishes:
     -Banku with stew (Banku is a dough-like ball)
    -Kontomire with boiled yam (Kontomire is a spinach-like stew)
    -Tomato stew with noodles
    -Red-Red (beans and rice)
    -Kelewele (friend plantain)
    -Other assortments of rice, noodles, beans, and stew
  • Other random things I make or order
    -Pizza
    -Veggie sandwiches with salad cream (salad cream is a mayonnaise and egg sauce) 
    -Egg and bread (fried sandwich–they are very popular in Ghanaian markets)
    -Burritos (when I’m lucky enough to find tortillas!)
    -Vegetable Stir-fry
    -Pasta with sauce 
    -Breakfast items such as omelets, pancakes, and oatmeal

What foods do I miss the most?

  • Good coffee!
  • Dairy products (especially cheese, yogurt and sour cream)
  • Cereal with milk
  • South-western style food and spices (enchiladas, burritos, fajitas, etc.)
  • Black beans!
  • Veggie burgers

 

 

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Mountains, Monkeys and Waterfalls in the Volta!

Week Eight

On the weekend of my eighth week I set off for another trip away from Legon, this time in the Volta Region, which is northeast of Accra. This region of Ghana is filled with thick rainforest covering layers of mountains; it was stunningly beautiful! The first adventure we had was climbing the tallest mountain in West Africa, Mount Afadjato! It was a 2,905 foot hike to the top, which was very steep and challenging. After several rests, being very sweaty and out of breath and almost vomiting, we made it to the summit of the mountain, where the view was breathtaking! We could see villages of the Volta down below, rolling mountains and even the border of Togo. We also were given a gift from nature by having a small, cool rain come down on us once we were at the top.

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After our descent from Mount Afadjato, we headed to Wli Waterfall, the highest waterfall in Ghana! We had a beautiful walk through the rainforest to find it, passing several small waterfalls and long millipedes along the way. Once we reached Wli, I was shocked by how high and beautiful it was! We swam underneath, letting the spray come down on us as we splashed and played. All around the waterfall was tons of bats and lush, green plants.

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After some time at Wli, we drove up the second highest mountain to a village where we stayed the night. This village was the home of one of our staff members at ISH, so we had a great tour guide. We stayed in a beautiful guest house with an amazing view, and ate local Banku and stew for dinner. The next morning we even got to officially meet the Chief, which is quite an honor! In the afternoon on Sunday before we left to go home, we stopped at Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary, home to 400 Mona monkeys, an endangered species. The monkeys were so tiny and adorable! They ate bananas right out of our hands and had no hesitation to sit on our shoulders. The Volta Region was another successful trip full of adventures!

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The Glass is Half Full

Week Seven 


After getting back from our trip to the North, I spent my seventh week in Legon, working on classes and spending time with friends. One exciting thing I did this week was go to Accra’s International Trade Fair, which was gigantic and had tons of stuff to look at from all over the world. On the weekend I also went to a jazz bar in Accra called +233, where we saw a beautiful live jazz band and relaxed with locals.

Overall this week was somewhat strange and I had some difficulty resettling after coming back from the North. I felt a little homesick for the first time since my first week in Ghana, and had less patience with certain things. Since this week was approaching my half-way point in my study abroad trip, I would read this emotions as a new phase in culture shock. When I feel like this I find it really important to spend some time meditating and self-reflecting, through spending time alone in my room or on the beach, and especially journaling. It also really helped to talk to friends and family from home, especially my best friends Drew and Jenna. I realized that this was just a phase and totally normal to being somewhere so far away from all that is familiar to me.
Since I only have two months left in Ghana I need to appreciate every moment, even those that are more challenging! As a wise traveler once told me, there will be good days and bad days, just like normal life back home. The good thing is that I have had so many exciting and wonderful days here that completely outweigh the more homesick or uncomfortable ones. I have already experienced so much here, and cannot wait to see what else I will do and see during the second half of my trip.

 

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Tamale and Mole National Park

Week Six

 On the weekend of my sixth week in Ghana, I set off for a 5-day trip to Ghana’s Northern Region! Since we had Ghanaian Independence Day coming up, we had some time off school to enjoy this vacation. There was five of us girls that planned the trip together (two Americans, two Canadians and one British)! We took a 40 cedi STC bus to Tamale, which is the main city of Northern Ghana. The ride was very long; it took us 14 hours to reach Tamale, but the view along the way was absolutely beautiful! The Northern region of Ghana is much more rural than Accra and the southern coastline, mainly because of the unequal infrastructure built by the British during colonialism. The two nights we spent in Tamale we stayed at a place called the Catholic Guest House, which was nothing fancy but definitely cheap. Exploring Tamale was really interesting and different from Accra–the markets and traffic were much more relaxed, and instead of seeing Christianity displayed everywhere like in the south of Ghana, we saw highlights of a predominately Muslim culture.

After some time in Tamale, we set off for Mole National Park. The park is supposed to be a three or four hour bus ride from Tamale, but we ended up breaking down on the side of the road next to a village for three hours! Traveling hick-ups like this are classic to the Ghanaian experience. Luckily the people of this rural village were very kind, and we ended up spending the whole time playing with adorable children. Between the breakdown and the unpaved, bumpy roads, we made it to Mole in about eight hours.

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We spent three nights total at Mole National Park, and it was the time of my life! We went on two safari tours, one by foot and one by car, and I was able to get very close to baboons, antelope, monkeys, warthogs, birds, and even elephants! We got to watch three wild elephants by the main water hole for quite a while–it was amazing! We also spent our last night in Mole in the tree house out in the savannah, literally sleeping under the moon and stars. We heard monkeys, small jungle cats fighting, and even hyenas! Overall this trip to the Northern Region of Ghana was full of new and exciting adventures, and a fabulous way to celebrate Ghana’s 55 years of independence.

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Exploring Accra

Week Five


During my fifth week in Ghana, I decided not to travel and spend time with my friends, Ghanaian and international, on campus. I attended all my lectures and also had time to go out during the week. On Wednesday we went to a bar/restaurant called Rockstone’s Office in Osu, another region of Accra. We listened to an all-night local jam session of jazz, rock, rap, and funk music. We also went out on the weekend for my British friend Hannah’s birthday. Ghanaian men and women love to dance, so exploring the night clubs is always an energetic adventure!
This week also provided me some enlightenment regarding gender relations and issues in Ghana. I am currently taking a Gender and Reproductive Health course at University of Ghana, and our topic this week was abortion. We learned that Ghana not only has legal abortion, but has one of the most liberal abortion policies in the world. Despite the law, shockingly, only 4% of Ghanaian women know that abortion is legal! Not only is this lack of education an issue, but women continue to have unsafe, unprofessional abortions that lead to high maternal mortality rates and other health issues. This really inspired some passion in me, and I hope to do some work for women’s issues during my time here in Ghana. Women definitely have a noticeable inferior status in Ghanain culture, which is reflected in political, economic and social life. There has not been one day here that I have not been completely aware of my identity and status as a woman. I have always felt safe, but I have had some negative experiences with Ghanaian men and their attitude towards me as a woman. I hope to use these experiences in my work with gender equality.
***

So far Ghana has been amazing! I love the beautiful environment, full of numerous species of trees, plants, animals and insects. I love the people and their persistent friendliness. I love what surrounds me every day, and I love what I have found within myself because of this new experience.

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Ghanaian College Life and a Trip to Kokrobite!

Week Four

In the week approaching the end of my first month in Ghana, I encountered several things that provided a genuine Ghanaian student experience. Firstly, I hand-washed my laundry, which was definitely a new type of chore for me. I was quite proud of myself after soaking, scrubbing, rinsing, wringing, and hanging over 70 items of clothing! My Ghanaian roommate, Esther, said that she was proud of me since many of the white students pay for their laundry to be done for them. Although taking my clothes to the Laundromat would be more convenient, I came to the University of Ghana to experience life as a Ghanaian, not an over-privileged foreigner. Plus hand-washing all of my clothing makes me very appreciative of clean clothes!

This week I was also introduced to a common Ghanaian issue–water shortage. We had no water in our dorm for three days–no running sinks, flushing toilets, or showers. In this type of situation, the Ghanaian no-stress attitude is greatly needed. We were all pretty smelly and greasy by the time the water came back, but our cheers throughout the hall revealed that we will no longer take running water for granted!
Another way I felt integrated into Ghanaian student life was through my classes. My academic experience here so far has been very, very different from Otterbein. I am taking classes in several departments, including sociology, history, political science, and archaeology, as well as an African drumming class. Each course is split up between lectures and tutorials. In almost all of my classes, the lecture is full of hundreds of students! The tutorials are more discussion-based with small groups. Although courses here are nice, especially since the University of Ghana is considered the best university in Ghana and West Africa, being here in my last semester of college has made me realize how well Otterbein educated me, with the small, discussion-based classes and creative professors. I have never before realized how truly lucky we are to have been Otterbein students.

After a week on campus, I went away for the weekend to Kokrobite, a small costal town in Western Accra. We stayed in a house at Big Milly’s Backyard, which was a beachfront resort! We listened and danced to a live reggae band on Saturday night, after enjoying all afternoon in the sun on the beautiful beach. As with all beaches that I have seen in Ghana, we shared the sand with colorful fishing boats, stray dogs, and people selling jewelry, bananas and plantain chips. A loud morning thunderstorm on Sunday morning closed off our trip, and we headed back to Legon! I had successfully completed my first month in Ghana!

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Legon Days

Week Three

My third week in Ghana I spent at my university going to class and getting acclimated to life in Legon (Legon is the suburb that I live in outside of the capital, Accra). My week felt somewhat “normal” until I felt very sick on Wednesday and Thursday. I had a horrible fever and my Ghanaian roommate, Esther, told me to go to the hospital. I went to the clinic that I heard was the “best around”, and ended up being there for seven hours, mostly waiting and feeling so sick. I do not know for sure, but my symptoms were Malaria symptoms so that is what the doctor prescribed me medication for, which helped within a few days. I definitely gained appreciation for American health care during this experience. One nice aspect of this week was that my friends, Ghanaian and international, really took care of me while I was sick. It made me feel at home.
All in all, life here in Ghana has been amazing! I am happy every day and love Ghanaian culture! Life is more relaxed here in Ghana–people don’t stress about things and rush everywhere like they do in America. I’ve never felt more calm and at peace than I have since I have been in Ghana.

10 Things I love about Ghana!
1. You can say “hello” and have a conversation with anyone, even complete strangers! People are always willing to chat, especially in the local language in Accra, Twi.
2. The beautiful beaches, forests, and red dirt.
3. The fresh and organic fruits and vegetables!
4. “Ghana Time”, everything here is slowed down, and takes forever!
5. The market women and adorable Ghanaian children.
6. The love of football (or what we call soccer in the U.S.)
7. The beautiful African sunset (the sun is very round here).
8. The tradition of music and dancing. Ghanaian music styles include azonto, high life, hiplife, and traditional.
9. How people here are genuinely happy and welcoming.
10. A lot of the Ghanaians call me “Obama!”

Things I’ve Done in Ghana so far that I’ve Never Done Before!
-Traveled and lived outside of the United States
-Took a Taxi and Tro-Tro (a Tro-Tro is a mini-van type vehicle that works like a bus and taxi combined.)
-Drank out of a fresh coconut
-Showered with a gecko
-Danced Azonto! (The popular type of music and dancing for young Ghanaians today. It is a mix of traditional African music and Western hip-hop.)
-Ate plantain and banku
-Been a racial minority in the area that I live
-Attended a school larger than 3,000 students (The University of Ghana is around 30,000 students in population.)
-Hand-washed my own clothing
-Visited an old slave fort castle
-Hiked in, walked in and spent the night in the Rainforest!
-Fell asleep to the sound of monkeys
-Went on a date with a Ghanaian man
-Took classes from Ghanaian professors
-Unfortunately, contracted Malaria

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Trip to Cape Coast

Week Two


During my second week in Ghana I scheduled for my classes and decided to take a trip to Cape Coast, which is a three-hour bus ride west of Accra along the coastline. . It is famous for the old slave castles from the British slave trade out of Ghana. We took a very nice bus for only 6 Ghana Cedi (a Cedi is Ghana’s currency). Since I am an individual student without a program, I travel with other students from the hostel and we figure out travel, accommodation, and the whole schedule of our trip on our own. Although it is quite challenging and never turns out how we planned (which is often the case in Ghana), it is always a fun learning experience. There was about 15 of us international students that went together; it was a mix of mostly British, Canadian and American students. We stayed at the Oasis Beach Resort in thatched-roof hostel-like bungalows literally on the beach! The sand was clean, the beach and resort were beautiful, you could see Cape Coast Castle from the resort, and it was all very affordable!
Cape Coast as a town was great; it was the epitome of relaxed, friendly, no-stress Ghana. It also wasn’t too much of a tourist trap, the locals mingled with us really well and I had conversations with so many people each day. On our second morning in Cape Coast we went on a tour of Cape Coast castle. The castle and its views of the beach were so ironically beautiful. It was overwhelming to step inside of the male (and especially female) dungeons and cells. The stories of colonization and the Atlantic Slave trade literally came to life. The absolute horror that went on in that place is indescribable–but I am indeed glad that Cape Coast was able to still be this peaceful, quiet place in spite of its chilling past.


After a few wonderful days in Cape Coast, a group of five of us went to Kakum National Park, the longest standing Rainforest in Ghana. We stayed in a tree-house overnight in the middle of the Rainforest! It took us 30 minutes to hike up and down hills and through the thick forest to find our campsite. It was so beautiful and adventurous! It was also very, very hot and humid; all of us were sweating so much! We went on a 2-hour night tour before we went to bed, and the most exciting thing that happened in the dark forest was getting attacked by African ants! They were biting us and in our socks but once we got them off we were okay–it was actually quite funny! We fell asleep to the sound of birds, crickets and monkeys calling, and woke up to an early morning canopy walk up high in the trees on rope bridges! It was still foggy in the very tops of the fauna as we walked 100 feet in the air! Kakum was an amazing experience.

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Akwaaba to Ghana!

Week One


After my ten hour plane ride across the Atlantic Ocean, I was overwhelmed with excitement when our plane flew into Accra! It was amazing to look down and see the green trees and deep red dirt of West Africa. When I stepped off the plane I felt the heat immediately–certainly a change from cold Ohio weather. I was picked up from the airport by a member of the International Programmes Office here in Ghana, and was wide-eyed and smiling with my head out of the window the entire ride to my university. The streets were busy with cars, trees, women carrying items on their heads, and street vendors busily selling things.
Once I arrived at my new home (the International Students’ Hostel II, what we call “ISH II”), I was surprised to see how far away my dorm was from the main campus. I was used to Otterbein’s tiny campus community, so this university seemed like a city! My dorm room was certainly not fancy, nor air-conditioned, but my double room was quite nice, with a bed, desk, wardrobe, bookshelf, sofa, side table, and balcony. The hostel overall felt very safe too.
My first few days here I allowed myself to settle in, and I was lucky to meet a lot of international students and Ghanaian students right away. Everyone here has been very welcoming and kind. I heard “Akwaaba!” several times a day, which means “Welcome!” in Twi, the local language in the Greater Accra area. Although I made new friends so quickly, I did struggle with culture shock and homesickness my first few nights here. I was happy and excited, but sometimes emotion overwhelmed me and I longed to be with my friends and family at home. Looking back on it now I understand these emotions, especially since I traveled to a non-Western country all on my own! Ghana is also the first country that I have been to outside of the United States, so feeling some culture shock was completely normal. As the week went on I attended orientation for the University of Ghana, went to the mall to pick up items for my dorm, and spent some time on the nearby beach! It only took a few days for me to completely fall in love with Ghanaian culture and people!


The most exciting day this first week was on Wednesday, which is Reggae night at Labadi Beach, a popular beach very close to our university. It was so much fun to dance and hang out with my friends literally on the beach! There was great music, friendly people, and beautiful waves. That night really made me feel at home in Ghana, and foreshadowed the amazing time I will have these next few months.

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Au Revoir, America!

My first blog post comes from New York City at the JFK airport! I have said goodbye to Ohio and now I am waiting to board my plane to Accra! 

Today has been filled with mixed emotions. I woke up quite groggy this morning with very little sleep, and I was  in disbelief that today actually came. Saying goodbye to my family was sad, but also warming because of how supportive they are. As soon as I entered security in CMH and was officially “on my own”, my disbelief turned into sheer busting excitement and happiness. I have not been able to stop smiling all day! I feel strong, independent and adventurous. It is incredible that after 8 years of dreaming to travel to West Africa, and 2 1/2 years of planning my study abroad program, today has finally come! All of the stress, roadblocks, challenges and worries seem so belittled compared to how satisfied and proud I am of myself. I am also so, so grateful to my family, friends, professors, coworkers and sorority sisters for the unwavering support, love, and belief in me! 

Even my first flight and layover have been an adventure. I have never been to NYC before, so seeing the city (and the smog) from the plane was an exciting sight! Also, this airport has been great for people-watching and conversing, especially since there is such a diverse mix of people. I have heard at least five different languages spoken in only the few hours that I’ve been here. I have also seen several birds flying and walking among the travelers, mainly pigeons! Between the pigeons flying above my head and my Dunkin Doughnuts coffee, I’d say I’ve had somewhat of a legitimate New York experience. ;)

Just in this afternoon I have fallen in love with traveling. I’ve learned quickly that it is so easy to meet people and talk with them if you are willing to smile and strike up a conversation. People are friendlier than we get credit for. :) I cannot wait to practice my people skills with the welcoming Ghanaians!

As the sun begins to set in New York, I am anxiously awaiting my departure to Accra. When I set foot off the plane I will be in the hot, humid tropical region that is beautiful Ghana (the motherland!) I cannot wait to hear “Akwaaba” (“welcome”) from those living in my new home. 

Peace and Love!
Au revoir, America (for the first time in my life)! 

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